The training world has not done a very good job selling the need for training to regular people. Partly, it’s because of the tremendous success some early trainers had in convincing a small segment of the population that training would make you a real man, a warrior, a ninja, a tactical god, a James Bond, a soldier of fortune, a real operator, a Dirty Harry …. whatever. The fantasy-warrior thing sold very well to a reliable segment of the potential market, and that factor still drives a big part of the training industry. All you need to do is look at popular YouTube videos to see that.
Reality is more mundane, and doesn’t sell as well to the fantasy warrior crowd. The truth is that even excellent, professional training does not turn you into a hero. It simply prepares you to safely defend yourself in a wider variety of circumstances. And no, I am not talking about circumstances where you might need to jump out of a helicopter with a knife between your teeth and a gun in either hand as the audience cheers. As exciting as that sounds, reality is a bit more boring. I am talking about simple skills that can help save the everyday lives of ordinary people.
Want some examples?
One of my regular readers has often said that she has no interest in taking classes where students “roll around in the mud,” because she already did that years ago in military training. I agree with her that there is no need for regular people to go through military–type training. However, one of the most valuable and reasonable classes I ever took taught me how to safely shoot if I got knocked to the ground by an attacker. Can you think of any circumstances where a woman might need to defend herself while lying on her back?
Another person laughs about “pointshooting.” Pointshooting has a poor reputation in some circles, so I tend to avoid the word. But it simply means using a reliable, well-practiced alternative technique to aim the gun when you cannot easily align the sights. Criminal attacks do happen in broad daylight… but they also happen in dim parking lots, around cars where you might be blinded by headlights, and in homes after the residents have gone to bed and turned off every light switch in the house. Can you think of any other circumstances where a woman might want to protect herself even though the lighting situation is not ideal?
Every time I teach people how to shoot while peering around a solid object, I notice that some of the students have not really connected the dots. They probably suspect me of showing them something they don’t really need to know, or that they would only need to know if they shot in competitions. But a huge number of home invasions involve homeowners who are awakened by the sound of an intruder trying to get in. It is not lawful, nor is it safe, to shoot through a locked door when the criminal is not yet able to reach you. But it is not smart, nor is it safe, to stand in the open and wait for the door to fly open. The smart thing to do is to set up “behind cover,” choosing to wait for events in a place where you can aim at your opening door while most of your body is hidden behind something solid. Can you think of a time when an ordinary woman might want to do that?
This lack of connecting the dots is not limited to so-called “advanced” skills, either. It sometimes goes down to the very basics. Thumbing through a gun magazine the other day, I came across an advertisement for a gadget. A gizmo. A weird piece of useless crap. A thing. Whatever. This whatchamacallit was basically a huge, oversized wrist brace you could attach to your handgun. Huh? Reading the ad copy carefully, I suddenly realized why that oddity had been invented. It was because somebody would rather spend $67 on a stupid piece of useless garbage, instead of investing that same amount in a few hours of decent training. The ad copy included a reminder: “sights can be adjusted …” In other words, the thingadobby could help a poor shooter with sloppy wrist feel like they were getting somewhere, but it wouldn’t do a thing about the horrid flinch a person develops when they don’t know how to hold a gun. They were advertising a badly-designed hardware solution to a software problem. And the software problem was not even a complicated one. We are not talking about some esoteric, advanced technique accessible only to high-speed, low-drag Ninjas. Nope! This is a fundamental, foundational shooting skill: being able to hold the gun and hit your target. Can you think of a circumstance where a woman might need to hit her target?
A surprising number of otherwise-experienced shooters do not know how to smoothly load their own firearms, or what to do if the gun hiccups. Many have been in the habit of waiting for someone else to tell them what to do when there’s a problem. That is not ideal. Can you think of a time when a woman might need to load a gun herself, safely and rapidly? Or of a time when a gun fails to fire and she needs to get it running again right away?
None of these are unlikely scenarios. People who own firearms do need to know how to use those firearms, and they need to know how to use them in a wider variety of circumstances than most ever practice. That is why I celebrate people who understand that safe, effective training is not just a game for fantasy warriors. Instead, it is a valuable resource for ordinary people living ordinary lives.